Will new restaurant guidelines help businesses in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts News

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — The Baker administration announced Wednesday that it’s loosening restrictions on bar seating and table capacity. 

The goal is to help restaurants generate much-needed revenue as we head into fall. One restaurant owner said that it’s a good idea, but overall restaurant capacity still sits at 25%, so they don’t see how it’s going to help all that much.

The state’s low positive test rate is allowing restaurants to expand customer seating. Bar seating is allowed, but you’ll have to order food and still be socially distanced. 

Pre-pandemic, the bar at Nadim’s in downtown Springfield made up almost half of the restaurant’s business. But even with the new regulations, bar service won’t bring in that much. 

“We still have to keep people sectioned off and 6 feet apart,” said Nadim Kashouh. “We are looking into getting dividers that we can move between parties of two, three, or four, which is a great thing. It will kind of bring life back.” 

But now, restaurant owners are facing another problem, the colder weather, which will soon leave outdoor seating empty. Some are trying to find ways to expand outdoor dining, in Boston it’s permitted until December 1.  

But for many business owners like Kashouh, it’s not feasible to invest in heaters or tents for the winter months, which is usually Nadim’s busiest time. So, he’ll be relying on indoor dining and takeout to keep the restaurant alive. 

The new regulations apply to both indoor and outdoor seating. Tables will still have to be 6 feet away from one another.  

The new rules go into effect Monday.

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